Pulse prevails after Steel stages thrilling comeback

Kate Heffernan of the Steel in action during the ANZ Premiership netball match between the Pulse...
Kate Heffernan of the Steel in action during the ANZ Premiership netball match between the Pulse and Steel at TSB Arena in Wellington. Photo: Michael Bradley Photography
If every half could be like the first half, the Southern Steel would be thrilled.

But alas, they are not, and they lost 54-46 to the Central Pulse at TSB Arena in Wellington this afternoon.

It was a gutting end for the Steel, who won the opening quarter 14-11 – their first of the season – and led by two at halftime.

But the Pulse showed who they are in the third quarter and lifted to win "the championship quarter" 17-8 and remain unbeaten.

Despite being without goal attack Tiana Metuarau through injury, the Pulse were classy in wearing the Steel down and being slick on attack with their cemented connections.

The Steel played some of their best netball in the opening half and once they are able to erase the lulls from their game, they will be better.

It really was a cliché game of two halves.

The Steel were not flashy, but they were patient on attack and waited for the openings to come.

Shannon Saunders’ experience was paramount in their good start.

She guided her young attack line, gave them depth and was never afraid to let it go.

Neither were Georgia Heffernan and Grace Namana, whose shooter-to-shooter off-loads hurt the Pulse.

Defensively, they stepped up across the entire court and even went on a five-goal run as the Pulse struggled to adjust.

Saunders swung the ball across the circle, which opened up Kate Heffernan to thread the needle through to Namana on the base.

It was passages like that which signalled the direction this Steel team is heading and they led 14-11 at the first break.

Khiarna Williams was injected at goal shoot for the Pulse, pushing Silver Fern Amelia Walmsley to an unfamiliar position out the front.

The tall timbers combined nicely and their midcourters Maddy Gordon and Whitney Souness found them easier.

But Walmsley became visibly frustrated by the physicality from the Steel’s defenders, who ground it out.

When the Pulse looked to be edging to take the lead, the Steel remained calm and worked the ball around for their feeders to find the circle edge.

That made it hard for Silver Fern goal keep Kelly Jackson (née Jury) to have her usual impact and limited the amount of ball she was able to pick up, which gave the Steel a 27-25 lead at halftime.

But the Pulse tightened defensively, and covered the front space in the circle which made the Steel hesitant on the feed in the third quarter.

Jackson and Parris Mason picked up ball and the Pulse were clinical bringing it through to take the lead.

Taneisha Fifita boxed out and secured the rebound under the post.

But the umpire deemed she was too physical against Walmsley when taking the ball, and the Pulse were given a penalty under the post.

That seemed to lift the intensity – and the physicality across the court – in the game and the Pulse took a five goal lead.

The home side then went on a five-goal run and just put their foot down to lead 42-35 at the break.

The Pulse were classy in their finish and denied the Steel a bonus point in the final quarter.